Q. There are several books written about how to interpret and understand dreams. I know some Muslims who place a lot of emphasis on them. Is there any validity to this?

A. No one knows the future, this is for certain. Now in the Qur'an, as far as dreams go, obviously Yusuf (a.s) was given the skill on interpreting them, and it is to be perceived as something specific to certain Hebrew Prophets. In our modern day context, regarding the best plan of action to take, etc., we cannot absolutely dismiss them, because Allah says in the Qur'an that He can speak to any person from behind a veil. This can mean dreams. Allah can answer us in any way, therefore dreams that mean something will be to those who truly deserve them.

It all comes down to a matter of piety and education on the part of those who receive dreams. Allah does not let the recipients of the knowledge of those dreams be fools. For example, in Yusuf's time, all the people accepted his interpretations of their dreams because he was known to be good. In our time, such a consensus is unlikely. The dream too, you may say, came to someone other than Yusuf. At least he was a Prophet among the people during a time of revelation, so it ties in. The time of prophetic revelation is no more.

Is it possible that a situation like Yusuf's can occur in our time wherein Allah makes us aware of the future? It cannot be ruled out, although the probability is very scant, with the end of the era of revelation. The person to whom such a dream would come would have to be recognized by all and sundry as extremely pious, and the standards for such are unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, too high for the current stratum of human beings. Therefore, dreams apply to those who are angels as far as all standards of human judgment goes, and that means possibly fewer people than the fingers on your hands.

Posted February 8, 1999